• mural on wall with animals, trees and bugs


    The Duzine Mural Project is a Fresh Coat of Nature and Whimsy 


    The walls of the Duzine Elementary School have been growing. A mural that is. Artist and professional Hudson Valley muralist Joe Pimental–whose work can be admired on the walls outside of the Student Support Center of the New Paltz Middle School–worked with the young Grade 2 Duziners to saturate the formerly bland walls with nature-based imagery and vibrant colors inspired by Mill Brook Preserve’s neighboring woodland forest. The beautiful result is appropriately entitled “Woodland Wonderland.” 


    Duzine Elementary Art Teacher Jen Cone surveyed staff for a fitting theme to be depicted on the walls. With nature as the proposed theme and fully supported by the Duzine/Lenape Parent Teacher Association (PTA), she sent Pimental nature photographs she’d taken at the adjacent Mill Brook Preserve with a list of the preserve’s creatures and student drawings to incorporate into the mural. “The Mill Brook Preserve offers such great educational opportunities to our students,” Cone explained. 


    Pimental said it took him approximately a month to complete his rendering using the photos and student drawings. He said that he integrated three different styles into the finished product: realism, semi-abstract patterns found in the leaves, and whimsical, fantastical elements. 


    Although Pimental has done more than 160 large-scale murals in schools, outdoor spaces, businesses, and community venues, the Duzine mural was a new, albeit enjoyable, challenge. “I wanted to make it look like you are walking through the woods,” he said, explaining that he has never been tasked with integrating nature into his work to this extent. 


    Pimental spent four hours sketching the mural’s outline, using a projector in sections to project the outline onto the 80’ wall. He and his assistant painter/younger brother Diego then got to work. The painting pair spent more than 55 hours over six days filling in the outlines with color to breathe life into the mural—using up a half gallon of green paint and a half gallon of brown while creating the lush woodland theme of realistic and imagined animals. Students helped under the guidance of Pimental and Cone. “There is one creature sitting on a log created by a student’s drawing,” Pimental explained. “We were dying to know what it was! We tracked down the artist to ask, and he said it’s a squirrel.” 


    Duzine Elementary will be welcoming Pimental back in January to give a presentation to the Duziners about painting, including his own personal backstory. “I show students slides of me at different ages of my life and encourage students to take opportunities to collaborate, stick with creativity, and make their dreams their day job,” he explained. “I want to give that inspiration to them. I show them my personal journeys from when I was their age.” 


    Duzine Elementary Principal Ross Hogan marvels at the results. “The final product is beyond our expectations, and we are incredibly impressed with the work by our students,” he said. “We are eternally grateful to the Duzine/Lenape PTA for funding this project, which we feel beautifully captures the value we place on nature, art exploration, and experiential learning.”